Facts to assist you when travelling to Mali 


Mali population 

  • 23.3 million  

Capital and Largest City 

  • Bamako. 

Official Language(s) 

  • French. 


  • West African CFA franc. 

Office Hours 

  • 07:30 – 16:00. 


  • Saturday – Sunday. 

Time Zone 

  • UTC.  

Calling Code 

  • +223. 


  • If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable. 


  • Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city. 


  • Colonel Assimi Goïta has been interim President of Mali as of 28 May 2021.  


  • Mali is known to be one of the hottest countries in the world! The thermal equator, which matches the hottest spots year-round on the planet based on the mean daily annual temperature, crosses the country. Most of Mali receives negligible rainfall, and droughts are very frequent. Late June to early December is the rainy season in the southernmost area. During this time, flooding of the Niger River is common, creating the Inner Niger Delta. During the hottest season of the year, temperatures are high throughout the country. Timbuktu, Taoudenni, Araouane, Gao, Kidal, Tessalit are some of the hottest spots on Earth during their warmest months. 


  • The main airport in Mali is the Lilongwe International Airport, located in Lilongwe. Mali’s transportation infrastructure is regarded as poor, even by regional standards, and deficiencies have limited economic growth and development. Mali has one railroad, including 729 kilometres in Mali, which runs from the port of Koulikoro via Bamako to the border with Senegal and continues on to Dakar. Mali’s main economic link to the coast is a paved road between Bamako and Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire. Because rate of automobile ownership is low, and formal government run public transit is sparse, informal buses and taxis abound in Malian urban centres. 


  • Mali’s main industries include mining, manufacturing, and agriculture. 


  • A common gesture in Mali that foreigners might not be familiar with, and might confuse them, is pursing your lips and making a buzzing sound, which means “nothing.” Unlike in western societies where burping is considered rude, in Mali, burping is considered a sign that one has enjoyed their meal. Often times, the cook or host will even consider burping a compliment. It is also impolite to shake hands or to eat with the left hand. 


  • Men shake hands when greeting one another. It is common to put your right hand to your chest, and this is a sign of respect. When meeting with longtime friends a hug is the common form of greeting. Women also shake hands with other female strangers and acquaintances. A verbal hello is appropriate as well. Close female friends will hug one another. It is not appropriate for people of the opposite sex to shake hands or hug. In such a case, a verbal greeting will suffice.  


  • The currency of Mali is the West African franc (XOF). The XOF is also the currency of six other independent states in Western Africa, such as Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. 


  • Foreign visitors who want to drive in Mali must have valid drivers license issued by the country of their residence. Driving in Mali is on the right-hand side of the road, and the minimum age for driving is 21. It is not permitted to use a handheld mobile phone whistle driving, and drivers caught doing this will face consequences accordingly. Driving under the influence of alcohol is also prohibited. 


  • Mali is a developing African country and is one of the poorest countries in the world. Due to its high levels of poverty, Mali also has high crime rates and is therefore not a particularly safe country. Transport isn’t safe in Mali as Malian roads and vehicles are often unsafe and unreliable. Some drivers can be reckless and ignore traffic signs, and at random times there can also be cattle roaming on the roads. Visitors should be careful about displaying wealth or any belongings in public. Avoid walking unaccompanied in Mali altogether, be it during day or night. 


  • Mali is home to many different tribes and ethnic groups. The largest of these groups is the Bambara, which accounts for 31% of the population. Other smaller ethnic groups include the Fula Macina, Soninke, Sanghai, and the Dogon (5%). Mali is a Muslim country. Approximately 90% of the country’s population ascribe to the Sunni Muslim faith. Minority religions in Mali include Christianity, most of which identify with the Catholic or Protestant denominations.  


  • Due to it being a poor nation, Mali unfortunately does not have many grand modern shopping malls and amenities like that of which can be found in western countries. However, the country does have a number of supermarkets and shops where locals and visitors can get everything they need. 


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